Functions of Axon Guidance Molecules in Synapse Formation

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Oct;19(5):471-8. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.09.005. Epub 2009 Oct 12.


Axon guidance and synapse formation are important developmental events for establishing a functional neuronal circuitry. These two related cellular processes occur in a coordinated fashion but previous studies from multiple model organisms seemed to suggest that axon guidance and synapse formation are mediated by distinct molecular cues. Thus, axon guidance molecules are responsible for guiding the navigating axon toward its target area, while other adhesion or ligand-receptor molecules specify the synapse formation within the target area. However, accumulative evidence has shown that axon guidance molecules can regulate the localization and formation of pre-synaptic and post-synaptic components during synapse formation. These results demonstrate a role for axon guidance molecules in synapse formation and provide insight into how axon guidance and synapse formation are coordinated at the molecular level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Synapses / physiology*